BB King – Live At Montreux 1993, Blu-ray (2009)
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment EVBRD 33332-9
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 color, 1080i HD
Audio: English DTS Master Audio 5.1, Dolby 5.1, PCM Stereo
Extras: Bonus Footage from 2006
Feature Length: 114 minutes
I’ve been receiving quite a regular flow of these concert Blu-rays and DVDs from Eagle Rock, and sometimes they’re a mixed bag. Eagle Rock seems to pretty much select only the offerings that have fared reasonably well (over time) for their Blu-ray offerings; other concerts, which are mostly important to preserve for archival reasons, seem to get relegated to DVD – no less important, mind you, just not as impressive visually. So when this 1993 Montreux performance showed up on Blu-ray, I really hoped it would be one of the good ones. No need to worry – it’s visually stunning, and looks remarkably good for a 16-year old video source. The palette of colors is incredibly natural, and the disc offers a highly detailed, crisp image with really deep black levels and superior contrast – the overall impression is nearly film-like, and offers an exceptionally satisfying watch!
BB King is on top of his game here (a spry 67 years old!), and his band is magnificent. The opening “Fanfare” offers all the band members the opportunity to solo in preparation for BB’s arrival. BB’s classic guitar, Lucille, sounds as magnificent as ever – his guitar tone hasn’t lost a thing over the decades. And his horn section is fantastic! This video is almost as much fun to watch as it is to hear, with members of the horn section dancing up a storm throughout the show. On his solo intro to “Chains of Love” he breaks a string while hitting one of his classic high notes, and then – not missing a beat – very deftly replaces it while singing the opening verse! His signature tune “The Thrill Is Gone,” still sounds every bit as immediate and essential as it did the first time I heard it 30-plus years ago on a cross-country airline flight. The 2006 bonus footage also looks pretty good, however the concert stage didn’t seem to be as well lit, and to be honest, I really preferred the 1993 footage, to my great surprise. And of course, at 80 years old in 2006, BB had lost a step or two, but still put on a surprisingly good show for an octogenarian.
The sound quality of this disc was beyond superb – even on sources of questionable video value (which this excellent Blu-ray isn’t), Eagle Rock spares no expense in offering the finest available sound, and the DTS HD Master Audio track offers a magnificent and dynamic concert experience. This exceptionally well-done Blu-ray is the real deal, and captures an important artist still in his prime – at 67 years old! Fans of BB King, the blues, great guitar playing – and just good music in general – will not be disappointed. Very highly recommended!
TrackList: 1993: Fanfare; Six Pack; Two I Shoot Blues; B.B. King Intro; Let The Good Times Roll; When It All Comes Down; Chains Of Love; Caldonia; All Over Again; Since I Met You Baby; Playing With My Friends; Ain’t Nobody Home; Why I Sing The Blues; Blues Man; Rock Me Baby; Please Accept My Love; The Thrill Is Gone; 2006 List: Why I Sing The Blues; When Love Comes To Town; Guess Who.
– Tom Gibbs